The Distant Barking of Dogs
In the midst of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a loving, wise, and defiant grandmother raises her two young grandsons. Living under the omnipresent threat of war, the spirited boys, Oleg and Yarik, learn to adapt to their precarious situation and playfully wander through their neighborhood oblivious to the dangers around them. With a warm gaze toward his beguiling protagonists, director Simon Lereng Wilmont lends sensitivity and entrancing visuals—intimately framed close-ups and vibrant rural landscapes—to a nuanced portrait of war and its corrosive effect.
“Presenting war through the ‘innocent eyes of a child’ has been a standby of cinema . . . for decades, so all credit to Danish documentarian Simon Lereng Wilmont for making his solo debut The Distant Barking of Dogs feel so memorably distinctive. . . . Lereng shows a precociously mature touch here, tracing a couple of traumatic years in the life of fresh-faced Oleg Afanasyev as he grows up amid the cacophony of artillery fire. Oleg spends his free time wandering the picturesque if somewhat trash-strewn countryside with his slightly junior cousin Yarik. But as the film goes on, Lereng Wilmont dramatizes the unique pressures that come with living adjacent to a war zone, presenting the physical and psychological impacts of such an upbringing on impressionable, malleable young souls.”—Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter